A major new prize aimed to discover the best new buildings from around the globe is being unveiled today (8 December) by the RIBA, and proudly partnered with Wallpaper*. The 2016 RIBA International Prize will honour a building which exemplifies design excellence and architectural ambition, and delivers meaningful social impact.
On the prestigious judging panel, chaired by Richard Rogers, is Nigerian-born Kunle Adeyemi, an inspiring young architect, whose firm NLÉ is based in Amsterdam.
Adeyemi's work and outlook epitomise the new award's ambitions. 'Social impact is an important aspect of architecture today,' he says, 'because it addresses some of the critical issues of our time: urbanisation and globalisation.'
NLÉ's ground-breaking Makoko Floating School floats on the lagoon in the Nigerian city Lagos, where Adeyemi studied architecture. He is now looking to expand that project with recreational and commercial infrastructures 'to enhance and improve the living conditions on the waterfront.'
Other urban and architecture projects in Africa include the Chicoco Radio Media Centre, an amphibious building in the Nigerian Delta city of Port Harcourt. 'As well as a radio station, there will be an amphitheatre, which will act as a public space to be used for cinema or a market,' he says, 'a structure that brings people together.'
Adeyemi's previous experience at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture will also stand him in good stead as a judge. He led a number of significant OMA projects, including China's Shenzhen Stock Exchange tower.
The RIBA International Prize jury is on the hunt for projects that stretch the boundaries of architecture, regardless of style, complexity or size. 'For me, size is not about direct physical scale, it's about the quality and impact of the work and the thought that's been put into it,' says Adeyemi. 'It's important to rethink the criteria for excellence in these critical times.'
The 2016 RIBA International Prize opens for entries today, while more the names of the remaining jury panel members will be unveiled in January 2016.